Today I’m going to share with you a SLEW of recipes that are ideal for your Thanksgiving menu – but also for Christmas. You see, in Canada, while Thanksgiving is celebrated, it is nowhere near as large and festive as it is in the US. So, I have always viewed American Thanksgiving dinner to be very similar to our traditional Christmas menu. So, I will share with you the plant-powered dishes I make for both our Canadian Thanksgiving AND our Christmas dinner – pretty sure you will find at least a few to add to your own menu!
My menu is based on flavors and ingredients that were (somewhat) traditional from my childhood. I say somewhat because there are parts of my Newfoundland food heritage that I didn’t care for and don’t try to preserve (salt beef, boiled cabbage). But, the elements I loved – like dried savory in a moist breadcrumb based ‘dressing’ I did love. So, I have reinvented some dishes in more compassionate, healthy – and flavorful ways, plus added my own menu components. And, I’ll note that our families (my mom, my parents-in-law, and sisters) have said that our vegan dinner is tastier than their traditional turkey dinners (and that they feel better after eating it).
I think this is where vegans feel stuck for the holidays, because they feel the need to “replace” the turkey. In my view, I never wanted to replace a carcass on the table. And, since I always thought that turkey meat was the least interesting part of the meal (there’s a reason I smothered it with gravy, dressing, and cranberry sauce), I didn’t care to “replace” that meat-y component to the meal either. So, for our family, we have never done the Tofurky for Christmas. You may want to – I’m not condemning it! Instead, I’m giving alternatives for something like Tofurky, Field Roast, and Gardein roasts, for those of you that want something altogether different (as we always have). Here are two ‘main dish’ ideas:
1) Festive Chickpea Tart. This savory tart from Let Them Eat Vegan was featured in VegNews and has received rave reviews. It isn’t difficult to make, and you can even bake it without a crust if you prefer. Definitely a holiday “centrepiece”.
2) A phyllo pastry savory main course. Usually I make the Festive Chickpea Tart for Thanksgiving, and then for Christmas I make a main course with whole-wheat or spelt phyllo pastry. I choose a savory filling, some of the recipes I’ve used over the years include: Spiced Mushroom and Potato Phyllo Pie from TEV, White Bean, Walnut, and Spinach Phyllo Rolls and Moroccan Chickpea Vegetable Phyllo Rolls from ed&bv, Brocolli-Mushroom-Walnut Phyllo Pie from Vive le Vegan, and most recently I’ve used the Rawesome Nut Dip from ed&bv as a filling for phyllo rolls. While I love all these recipes, I will tell you that the rawesome nut dip is the easiest, quickest filling of them all. I’ve used it the past couple of years for that reason, and usually double the batch to yield a large enough batch for filling the phyllo rolls. This year I plan to roast some vegetables (probably some sliced red peppers, fennel, and mushrooms) and layer those with the raw dip. Phyllo is FAR easier to use than you might think, and it is forgiving. So, either layer in a casserole dish (I have instructions for doing so in both TEV and Vive), or make phyllo “rolls” (and I have instructions for doing that in ed&bv). I have posted the recipe today for my White Bean, Walnut, and Spinach Phyllo Rolls! Plus, the Moroccan Phylllo Rolls recipe and Rawesome Nut Dip recipe are also available.
I know there are regional differences whether you call it stuffing or dressing. We called it dressing growing up, and it will always be that for me. But, why stuff a bird-bum when you can stuff a gorgeous, fresh winter squash? Butternut, kabocha, red kuri… take your pick, then stuff it silly! (Plus, you can always make extra stuffing and bake in a covered dish. I do just that, because my crew eat a LOT of the dressing!) I have posted my “All-Dressed Squash” recipe for you! **Note: Forgive some of the upcoming photos, they were taken several years ago. I will try to get better photos this year, though I must admit that taking food photos is the last thing I want to do once Christmas dinner is all ready!
I have recipes in most of my books for gravy. In TEV you can find a Mushroom Gravy. In ed&bv there I have a Thick ‘n Rich Gravy, and in LTEV you can try Rosemary Gravy (pictured with the No-Fu Love Loaf, below). I am sharing my Thick ‘n Rich Gravy recipe (with an oil-free option) with you today! :D
The side veggies might be my favorite. My secret to particularly scrumptious root vegetables is to ROAST, not boil, them. Growing up, our parents boiled the veggies – to a pulp. Boiling takes all the flavor out of the vegetables and then you need a lot of fat/salt/seasonings to make them taste special. Roasting concentrates the flavors and caramelizes the natural sugars for the best flavors in your root veggies. Roast them whole, then puree in your food processor or with an immersion blender. The pureed roasted rutabega (turnip) are spectacular, I really love them, with the infusion of cinnamon (just like my mom used to do)! I also make roasted sweet potato puree with nutmeg, and then I do a casserole roast of some combo of chopped roasted parsnip/fennel/carrots/shallots. (And, sometimes I’ll do a mashed potatoes for the girls as they love them.) In LTEV I also have some ideal holiday side dishes, including: Smashing Sweet Spuds (pictured below), White Bean Mashed Potatoes, Lemon Dijon Green Beans, Oven-Sweetened Beets with Sage, Gingered Broccolini, and Duo of Roasted Fennel. The recipes for my Roasted Sweet Potato Puree and Roasted Rutabega Puree are now posted.
Mixed Green Salad
With all the cooked veggies, I like to add a fresh mixed greens salad to the menu. I keep it very simple with some thinly sliced red pepper, cucumber, green onions, and pomegranate seeds (an easy, festive, colorful touch), and topped with a sprightly dressing. This Kale-Slaw would also be PERFECT for the holidays, with the combination of apples and cranberries:
Can’t forget the cranberry sauce. Forget ocean spray, it takes mere minutes to make your own fresh cranberry sauce using the simplest of ingredients! My Traditional Cranberry Sauce is easy and excellent, try it!
Dessert varies every year. Some years I’ve made my Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, more recently I have been making my Pumpkin Pie Custards with Brulee Topping. Many years I make ice creams! They are great for many reasons: (1) You can make them in advance; (2) You can customize holiday flavors (I have “egg-nog ice cream” and “pumpkin pie ice cream” in LTEV; (3) add a luscious sauce (like Coconut Caramel Sauce from LTEV), fruit, and/or nuts, and transform them into beautiful parfaits!
And, here are some other recipes that would be ideal for your Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers:
I hope you enjoy these recipes for the holidays. Truly, a vegan Thanksgiving and Christmas meal can be FAR more delicious than any traditional dinner, wouldn’t you agree? Please share some of your favorite holiday dishes with my readers!